Although few will deny the recent popularity of the DIY movement, the phrase “DIY art kit” still feels like something from a bygone era. Indeed, the idea of assembling art from a kit conjures images of kitschy Paint-By-Numbers boxes and seems far from what one might deem “high design.” mākgoods, a design studio born in Houston, Texas, it looking to change that. Founded by longtime friends Chad Workman and Sterling Mennear, mākgoods creates modular art kits that help people create stunning Modernist wall art without breaking the bank. We recently spoke to the duo about their business and process. Take a look below!
Where did the idea for modular art kits come from?
Chad: To be honest, the idea was a direct result of frustration! Shortly after graduation, my family and I moved to a Houston suburb for a new job. When furnishing and decorating our home, one particular room was especially boring. We wanted wall art that was interesting, dimensional and meaningful without requiring a second mortgage. Unfortunately, our month-long search was unsuccessful—everything we found seemed mass-produced and unoriginal.
It seemed that I only had one option: fill my garage with gigantic power tools (that I had no clue how to properly use) and make something myself. At great length I made a wall sculpture out of 2x4s. Having never made an original thing in my entire life, mounting it on the wall was a banner moment! When asked where it was purchased it was surprisingly gratifying to say, “I made it!” To this day, when I look at that creation I think of the personal meaning behind it.
The creative process and end result were incredibly powerful for me. I wondered if there was a way to help others solve the same problem, but without having to haul lumber, fill a garage with power tools and invest in hearing protection.
I called my friend Sterling, who has a degree in fine art, a graduate degree in architecture and years of professional design experience (I’ve never known a more talented person), and told him of my quandary. Having experienced the same challenges in commercial art settings, he instantly started designing products that would allow people to create their own art. And bam—mākgoods was born!
Our mission was clear: to help people make their homes authentic and personal by designing home goods that are completely customizable without a garage full of power tools or a PhD in architecture.
At our core are a few basic beliefs: 1. We are all born creative, not just a select few. 2. When you make something it means something. 3. Home should be authentic and personal.
We like to keep these beliefs in front of us all the time.
Our frustration with readily available, affordable art and our belief that we all have creative capacity lead us to the idea of totally customizable art kits – we call them modular art kits. They are designed to be infinitely customizable in composition and finish, making it easy for anyone to create modern, original wall art.
How do you go about designing the kits?
We have found that three specific design characteristics work really well for the aesthetic and user experience that we are after: designs that are modular, dimensional and simple.
A modular design allows for the parts, or modules, to be composed in any way. We design the modules based on simple, geometric grids, which makes it easy to visualize different compositions that work with a space’s unique characteristics.
Adding dimension to our kits adds a great deal of visual interest. In fact, the art created with our kits might be best characterized as wall sculpture. Dimensional art is so dynamic because it looks different as you move around a room.
Simplicity, both in form and function, allows us to design clean, modern things with a focus on great materials. We love using natural hardwoods like walnut, maple and oak. And we make it easy to mount the kits on the wall with included mounting squares. Any required assembly is always simple and tool-free.